BOSTON (CBS) — Give those responsible for making the NBA schedule a lot of credit. The final week of the regular season is going to be an exciting one for those paying attention to the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
And unlike their TD Garden roommates, the Boston Celtics are in control of their postseason fate as the regular season winds down.READ MORE: Ball's Triple-Double Carries Hornets Past Celtics, 111-102
But while they can steer themselves to the third of fourth seed in the East, earning them home-court advantage for the first round, the Celtics cannot afford any hiccups along the way. There is still plenty to be decided over the next eight days, with three of Boston’s five remaining games against the teams they’re currently sharing real estate with in a crowded midsection of the Eastern Conference standings. It’s up to the Celtics how far they rise or fall over the next week, and it will all come down to how they do against their potential first-round foes.
The Celtics head into Wednesday night’s game against the Pelicans as the four seed in the East, a half game behind the Hawks, who beat the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. Boston and Miami (who beat Detroit on Tuesday) each tout a 45-32 record on the season, but the C’s own the tiebreaker with a 2-0 record against the Heat. Both teams currently own a one game lead over the Charlotte Bobcats, who didn’t help their cause with a loss to the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
Here’s the remaining schedules for the four teams duking it out for home court advantage in the East:
Atlanta Hawks: vs. Toronto (0-3); vs. Boston (2-1); @ Cleveland (0-2); @ Washington (2-1)
Boston Celtics: vs. New Orleans (2-0); vs. Milwaukee (2-1); @ Atlanta (1-2); vs. Charlotte (2-0); vs. Miami (2-0)READ MORE: 'It's Been A Big Relief': National Guard Deploys At Brockton Hospital
Miami Heat: vs. Chicago (3-0); @ Orlando (2-0); vs. Orlando (2-0); @ Detroit (1-2); @ Boston (0-2)
Charlotte Hornets: @ New York (2-1); vs. Brooklyn (3-0); @ Washington (2-1); @ Boston (0-2); vs. Orlando (2-1)
The Hornets have the easiest remaining schedule on paper, with three of their opponents already eliminated and the Washington Wizards’ postseason hopes on life support. The Heat luck out with a pair of games against the 33-44 Magic, but also have to face off against the Bulls and Pistons, who are battling each other for the eighth seed in the East (Detroit holds a two-game edge at the moment).
Atlanta has the toughest slate of the bunch, which is great news for the Celtics. But they’ll still have to take care of business on their end for another team’s potential struggles to matter.
The Celtics host a pair of teams already eliminated from the postseason in New Orleans and Milwaukee before taking on that trio of playoff teams, but can’t look ahead and risk losing focus on either of those two opponents. Those final three games of the regular season will likely be the difference between hosting a potential Game 7 or making a trip to Atlanta, Miami or Charlotte, but if the Celtics lose either of the two games leading up to them, it may not matter.MORE NEWS: Tewksbury Police Looking For Best Backyard Ice Rink For Pick-Up Hockey Game
The playoffs may still be a week away but there will be a postseason feel to the final week of the regular season, and the Celtics can’t afford any slip ups along the way if they want to accomplish their goal of hosting a playoff series.